Oil prices jumped to $48 a barrel

&to=http:// english.pravda.ru/economics/2003/03/26/45093.html ' target=_blank>Oil prices jumped higher Thursday morning, briefly rising above $48 a barrel, as traders' nerves were tested by a combination of short-term production snags in the North Sea, expectations of colder U.S. weather and concerns about OPEC's next move and the upcoming election in Iraq.

After reaching as high as $48.25 per barrel, light, sweet crude for February delivery traded $1.56 above Wednesday's closing price at $47.93 per barrel in midday dealings on the New York Mercantile Exchange. Oil futures have climbed nearly 14 percent since the start of the month.

Referring to the recent uptrend, Andrew Lebow, a senior vice president at Man Financial Inc. in New York, said "I think it's more psychological than fundamental", informs Forbes.

According to the Bloomberg, below-normal temperatures will prevail in the Northeast, where 80 percent of U.S. home heating-oil use occurs, from Jan. 18 through Jan. 22, according to the National Weather Service. Prices also rose on concern that Iraqi shipments may be cut as insurgents try to disrupt the election on Jan. 30.

"The market is getting a boost from the coming extreme cold, although the forecasts have been moderated," said Michael Fitzpatrick, vice president of energy risk management at Fimat USA in New York. "The attacks in Iraq will build to a fever pitch before the election."

Technical traders who try to forecast a market's direction by analyzing patterns in prior price and volume data started buying futures when prices rose above $47.30, the high reached on Jan. 10, traders said. Prearranged orders to buy futures at specific prices, known as stop orders, were triggered as prices rose.

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